Archive for the ‘Tinfoil hat’ Category

Morality and dieties

Saturday, July 4th, 2020

So, one of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is how unreasonable and unethical God’s behavior is in the book of Job. It’s actually a long term set of thoughts, and it’s not entirely a academic discussion for me because I’m playing with genetic algorithms and artificial neural networks.

You don’t own a life form independent of you just because you created it. I grant you that humans generally behave as if we do – we believe we own our children until they’re 18 and we often treat them pretty badly. There are *starting* to be some people who ask the hard questions concerning our experiments in artificial neural networks – certainly “The Measure Of A Man”, a episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation – does a good job of discussing the problem.

And, it’s true, in general Christians seem to believe it’s reasonable for God to judge them and large portions of them think it’s reasonable for God to punish or reward – sometimes based on whether or not you say the magic name or think the magic thoughts. The idea of people being considered not worthy if they happen to not pick right from a plethora of competing religions is horrifying and yet many Christians defend this clearly awful behavior that they ascribe to God.

It is reasonable for the group to protect itself from the bad behavior of individuals. It is not reasonable for a diety, who can never be threatened by any of their creations, to punish and reward. I’m not sure what the solution is, but it is clear to me God’s defense “Where were you when I made the mountains” is totally inadequate and in fact generally nonsensical – it’s not likely to be what a deity would say because it represents a human-centric way of thinking both about time and about the interconnectedness of all things.

In any case, the behavior of JHVH in Job is worse than the behavior of Satan. The behavior is horrifying, and maybe that’s the point of the book, to help us understand how evil God is. People are not interchangeable. You can’t kill off all of someone’s loved ones and give them new ones and expect them not to be badly damaged. And you *shouldn’t* test individuals to destruction – remember this is the very God who says “Don’t you dare test the lord your god”. If it’s not moral to test God, it’s not moral for God to test us.

It does bring up a interesting question – is morality the same for us and for God? After all, God might well be able to see multidimensional patterns we can’t see – certainly would know the answers to questions we don’t know the answers to. On the other paw, given that power corrupts – and power tends to damage neural networks in ways that make them abusive – see recent police abuses of power for example, as well as many, many, many other examples of people who are empowered becoming abusive – one has to ask, if God is a neural network, is God so damaged as to be fundamentally broken and likely continuously evil?

I’ve talked before on whether there’s a maximum size of neural network that is even stable. One thing we may be in the process of learning right now is that there’s a maximum size of neural network that can survive without destroying itself. And of course I tend to think JHVH is a fictional character invented to enable the powers that be to more easily control the population – but if JHVH existed, they *still* might be dead. And we might well tell ourselves we are hearing JHVH (or Allah, or what have you) even though they don’t really exist, because neural networks that are entrained in a pattern definitely can produce signal that is representative of that pattern.

Anyway, my underlying point is, being a God doesn’t automatically make everything you do moral, and it’s fraught with opportunities to commit immoral acts. In general giving people power tends to lead them away from empathy and towards being cruel and/or power-seeking. There are some obvious counter-examples, but they are not in the majority.

One of the things that scares me most about Christians is their “God is a 800 lb monkey and therefore anything he does must be right and I’m going to try to uphold his will even if it means murder and mayhem”. That the Christians started the crusades tells me a lot about them, and I in general continue to think the religion should be struck in favor of one that we develop in modern times with stated goals that we can all agree on. Of course, it would be nice to understand enough about how our minds work that we can author software for them that will do good things.

The Atari 2600

Friday, June 26th, 2020

So, while a lot of the roots of modern computing hardware can be traced to the Commodore Amiga, and a lot of the roots of modern software can be traced to Xerox Parc (along with modern networking), pretty much nothing can be traced to the Atari 2600 – and yet, it was one of the most influential computing systems of the 20th century.

The design of the 2600 can best be destribed as ‘cheap’. It’s kind of extrordinary to think that the system had so little memory that it could not even represent the first paragraph of this blog entry in RAM. I had wristwatches in the 80s that had more RAM than the 2600. It also lacked a lot in custom chips – there wasn’t a framebuffer, or a blitter, or.. much of anything, really. The CPU spent its time ‘racing the beam’ – taking advantage of the ‘downtime’ in NTSC while the electron beam swept back up to the top of the screen to do any computing needed to keep track of things like score counters or player sprite position (heh heh sprite yah right!) and focing all the effort of the CPU on actually driving the display while the beam was sweeping across the phosphers.

What the 2600 mostly gave us was A: a set of developers who could code for *anything* and B: a entire generation of people who learned that computers could be fun. The 2600 was so cheap that almost everyone either had one or knew someone who did, and it was small and light enough to be passed around amongst circles of friends. It had some surprisingly playable games for such a unenviable piece of hardware, which mostly speaks to just how dedicated humans are when it comes to entertainment. If we put the kind of effort into ceasing war and arranging for love for everyone that we put into moving little pixels around on screens we’d already be living in a utopia. For that matter, I feel pretty sure that if the people who designed some of the later game consoles (like the PS3 and the Wii) were permitted to design a economic system we would no longer have any reasonable reason to have wars.

It is pretty astonishing both how far we’ve come in terms of computing in the last 50 years and how far we haven’t come in terms of political systems. We are still just fine with a president who lies several times a speech, almost half of us still believe that helping people out is a sign of mental illness but lying in order to start wars isn’t..

I think the problem is that democracy is limited to the average intelligence of the group, whereas things like the 2600 – well, computers in general – are driven by the brightest and best. And I also suspect that various organizations – especially “news” organizations like Fox that have heavily spun news and outright fiction in order to fit people’s preconceived notions and make them feel good about voting for the death of their fellow man – pander to the lowest common denominator and try to drive it ever lower.

I can’t help but wonder, though, whether our votes are actually counted at all. The powers that be could have a hybrid paper/blockchain system that would let us all check the aggregation and also look for signs of malfeasance, but they have chosen to go with easily-hackable digital voting machines instead. Normally I tend to look down on conspiracies and “the illuminati are ruling us all” because honestly, Earth does not look that organized. On the other paw, it *really* seems like we should be further along than we are. So maybe the 20-yacht club, who love it when the cops kill the lowly peons because it makes them feel powerful, are in fact leaving us the *illusion* of voting to keep us from rebelling, but actually installing whoever they want whenever they want.

On the other paw, assigning a *toddler* the nuclear launch codes, which is what clearly has been done most recently, doesn’t make sense under *any* scenario I can think of. So maybe I’m just stuck in a video game and don’t know it. Or I’m hallucinating a mile a minute.

A few more notes about the CRJ and cops

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

So, my suspicion is that those of you who are conservatives who are defending the police have not had the direct experience of having cops aim guns at you, cops threaten to beat you, cops physically hurt you for not kowtowing fast enough. I have had all those experiences. I have had police come to my door and threaten to beat me because they thought I was squatting in a house I was legitimately renting, for example.

And I also think you’re not thinking about how you’d feel if it was your child, or your wife, or your friend who was gunned down by the police either because they executed a no-knock warrant at the wrong address or because they just decided that that particular person looked threatening. Our police are out of control – as we’ve seen from how they treated protesters, they are *eager* to tear gas, *eager* to shoot rubber bullets, and totally willing to lie about how the protesters were throwing objects in order to justify it. We’ve seen our guardians slash tires, plant evidence, break windows, incite riots..

I think if it had been you, you’d understand the anger of all these people who *it has been*. They’ve ruined people’s lives over bullshit and trivia, over and over. They’ve murdered with impunity. They’ve abused their authority over and over.

At this point I think the system needs disassembled and replaced, and we need to be data-driven and result-driven when we do this. We need to stop thinking that punishing is *ever* a good thing, for example. A eye for a eye just makes everybody blind, and the actual guilty parties are probably usually so far back in history that there’s no way to even know who they are, much less enact any sort of revenge upon them.

I don’t know how we get from our current situation to something less dystopian, but I suspect some of it involves taking a deep breath and not acting from anger, either towards the police or from the police towards the citizens. It also involves recognizing that the bosses who stand on the necks of us all need disempowered – they have already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they don’t have the best interests of humanity at heart. And I think Trump demonstrates that the same processes that make billionares also, at least some of the time, make profoundly broken people.

Reminder about the ‘Tinfoil Hat’ category

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Posts marked ‘Tinfoil hat’ are to be taken with at least a few grains of salt. They may not represent the beliefs of my mind as a whole but rather just the beliefs of certain subnets, or they may represent beliefs I hold which I think are contradictory, illogical, or unreasonable.

More on conservatism

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

So, I understand the urge to save what’s good about a society – and after all as I’ve talked about elsewhere we must all have conservative neurons or we wouldn’t function, so there is certainly a *type* of conservatism that isn’t wrong and stupid. It’s just not the type we currently have. (You can almost say that the way our experiences become hardwired in a way that makes deletion incredibly difficult is a way that our entire brain is inherently conservative of experience, and that is also a desirable thing)

You can also quite rightly accuse me of being *incredibly* conservative – after all, I test every operating system update and will often refuse to install further upgrades once the operating system appears to be declining instead of advancing. I insist on rigorous tests before performing system upgrades, be they hardware or software. I like to have several backup plans based on most probable things going wrong at all times. And so on.

If ‘conservatives’ were conservative in the way I’m conservative about installing software, I’d welcome them and say they perform a very desirable role. The problem is, what we actually have is they are either A: in love with 1800 and want to go back or B: in love with paper money and willing to destroy real value in order to make more of it or C: in love with war and willing to kill millions of innocents – originally over things as stupid as whether we should be collectivist or individualist – not here in America, but whether other countries were allowed to try out collectivism – but now, even worse, just over lies and in order to make more money. (Weapons of mass destruction, anyone?)

Part of what’s alarming is that the conservative electorate appears to have no memory. Their side lies to them and kills millions of people but all they can do is pull the lever next to the conservative party because they’re afraid some bum somewhere will get some of their money. We’ve spent far more on our idiotic wars over resource system ideology – and destroyed trillions worth of resources, making the human race as a whole poorer – than we ever will giving someone food or a place to live.

Of course, some of this is that the powers that be have figured out how to manipulate the emotions and thinking of a conservative voter. (probably of a liberal voter and a progressive voter as well.. we’re all at risk of being brainwashed.. but it doesn’t irritate me nearly as much when millions of people aren’t being killed).

For example, they’ve sold some really insane thinking over the issue of abortion. Clearly if you believe in God you should A: notice that abortions happen spontaneously even without human help and B: conclude that God presumably has a perl script in place to route souls only to bodies that are going to be extant. If you don’t believe in God, then that is a blank tape, a empty neural net. But I digress. The point is, the conservatives grab the single issue voters who somehow don’t notice that they murder millions. They’ve got several different single issues that push people’s buttons – and *both* sides of the aisle write emails that are loaded with emotionally laden symbols and are trying to push people’s buttons as hard as humanly possible.

Now, if anyone wants to argue that both sides are corrupt, I agree. We need to not have a two party system.. among other things, with a two party system, the only people you can hire when you kick the bums out are the other bums. It’s great for crony capitalism and corruption, not so good for doing a good job at running things.

Anyway, the basic thesis behind conservatism is that the future isn’t going to be better than the past. That we shouldn’t try new things and see which ones work. Beyond that there’s also the thesis that there isn’t enough and won’t be enough and we need to make sure that everyone who isn’t putting their back into it starves. There’s also the thesis that we need to make sure the bosses are able to make everyone who is putting their back into it barely get by while the bosses have multiple yachts.

Now, we’ve reached the point where I actively loathe the right. Part of this is the posting by the president to a link to a video that says “the only good democrat is a dead democrat”. It’s very difficult for me to not be upset by this – I guess I thought the president was supposed to at least *try* to be the leader of everybody, not just his or her chosen party, and was supposed to consider the points of view of everybody. I would say that I pretty much want the GOP to cease existing at this point and be replaced by two different (or more) right wing parties. Of course, I’d also like the Democrats to *stop being a right wing party*. It also makes me wonder how many of my conservative friends think the world would be a better place if I was no longer in it.

I am pretty amazed at how effective brand loyalty is. I have conservative friends who are defending Trump even as he robs America blind and destroys everything. I am fairly sure if they had been told he was a Democrat, they would be attempting assassination by now. But, they believe he’s part of their tribe, one of their brand, so they are carefully blind to his awfulnes. There’s probably a interesting lesson about input filters and brand loyalty here, which perhaps I will find later.

I think part of the problem is that we should be insisting on everything being evidence based and data driven, but we instead would rather push for our ideologies even when they do not align with the data and fail reality testing. But one of the interesting things that happens is our view of reality bends with our beliefs so it’s actually kind of hard to know whether we’re being even remotely objective or not.

Challenges in transitions

Saturday, June 20th, 2020

So, I see on the news someone was killed in CHOP (the capital hill police free zone). I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. Of course, the presence of police with their current behavior could also very likely have led to someone dying so it’s not as clear cut as “Cops are good, mkay”.

It reminds me of a Niven story, ‘cloak of anarchy’, in which society has chosen to make ‘anarchy parks’ where there are no rules except no one shall raise a hand against another, enforced by a system of robots that have some form of stunner. These robots run on beamed power, and a character in the story decides to experiment with whether “real” anarchy would work by knocking out the beamed power source.

It goes about like you’d expect. Actually, possibly because it’s fiction, the situation deteriorates far faster than it has in CHOP. However, it underlines the challenge in transitioning from one system – even a broken system – to another.

Making a real functional society without police in their current role is challenging, and unfortunately by the time the group realizes that real change needs to happen various transgressions have already occured which make the current situation untenable. Unfortunately my personal beliefs about the people running CHOP is that they are not the team to forge a new criminal justice system or new government – part of this is A: they couldn’t even agree on the name of their autonomous zone and B: they changed it, which suggests they spent time and energy on the subject when triage of the situation would suggest there are much bigger and more immediate issues to be addressed. I wonder to what extent they have even discussed what they will do with individuals who are acting in ways that are not in the best interests of the group.

I feel bad about having a low opinion of the group of people who have been, among other things, occupy – I agree with almost all of what they want, but I feel like we need to triage and work the most important problems first – the fact that their manifesto had *30 items* concerns me about their ability to do this. I agree, everything is broken, but we can’t fix everything at once. Ideally, we’d figure out which problem is most at the root of our issues and fix it first, or alternately figure out which problem is hurting the most people and fix it first.

I am glad that the general public is finally recognizing that the cops are out of control and have become as big a hazard as the criminals – but also as I mentioned in previous posts we need to not just throw them under the bus either. They were placed in a framework that asked them to enforce bad laws – and I really think any time you make a human hurt other humans because of stupid bullshit political ideaology (i.e. the drug war) you damage that human. I mean, you look at things like Vietnam and you clearly see that the people who come back from murdering innocent people over resource allocation system ideology end up profoundly fucked up – we’re just not built to hurt people. We can do it, because we’re *very* programmable, but not without taking some damage ourselves. And I have to imagine that the cops arresting people for smoking weed and watching them get years in jail have to have known at least subconciously that they were acting immorally and making the world a worse place, and I have to assume they took damage from that. At the same time, we ask the police to handle some of the most difficult situations humanity faces – things like the infamous “domestic disturbance” – and increasingly we hate them because we know they’re making the world a worse place. We also know they routinely shoot citizens for no good reason and get away with it, which makes fearing them rational. It’s not a good place for the police to be in and it’s not a good place for the citizens to be in..

However, we do still need guardians – especially because our memetics are so bad. Our religions do awful things to our minds, and our advertising often does some undesirable ones as well. And, it’s difficult for a new system of guardianship to self-organize in a way that’s going to work right right out of the box. The story I mentioned above really shows why this is difficult.

I really don’t know what the right answers are or I would be down at CHOP trying to sell my viewpoint of what a utopian future would look like. I know that the current situation must change because we have cops planting evidence, cops killing citizens, and a obvious systematic bias based on the color of skin. And we also treat life like it’s incredibly cheap – we care more about money than we do about life and will put someone in jail for a year for stealing $100. In the meantime, we’ve built a economic system that is going to fail more and more spectacularly as automation gets better and better – and we’re busy making automation better and better.

I will inject one more comment – conservatism is wrong and stupid. History shows us over and over that when we believe we can do things, we can do them. And modern conservatism says “My money is more important than your life” – while at the same time repeatedly destroying real value in order to make paper dollars. Humans fall in love with political brands, but I think if you pulled everyone out of their bubbles and let them sit down and think for a while they would recognize that politics in general in the USA is broken and we need to kick *everyone* out of the pool and start over – but also that beyond that, conservatism is even *more* broken. That there are republicans trying to block mail in voting – they claim that it’s based on fraud but I’ve dug deeply into the dataset and the fraud I found was fractions of a percent, never anywhere near anything that could change a election – it’s really about the fact that conservatives are willing to cheat to win. At this point my feeling is even conservatives know their policies are bad for the group as a whole, but they are quite willing to let other folks die if they can continue to be rich – and then they’ve sold some very irrational things to some very frightened and/or gullible people. I find it the most interesting when I see conservatives who are only alive because of collectivist health care arguing that the state should not take care of people who make mistakes.. I can’t help but wonder if they realize at all that they want to saw off the limb they’re standing on.

Clarification to previous post

Saturday, June 20th, 2020

So, since there seems to be some confusion.. in the last sentence of the previous post, I was saying we need a organization to *help the cops*. I don’t *want* them to end up homeless and hungry, and I feel they have been ill done by by our system in general. These are living, breathing human beings and while the current situation is terrifying and has programmed into them some very destructive beliefs, their lives also still matter. We need to deprogram them of the harmful programming that results from too much authority, and also from being the hated and feared face of a broken authoritarian system that’s run by madmen. (That’d be the top-level politicians, who I have a very low opinion of)

I do not *want* the police to be homeless and hungry even if we determine that the way we were using police is inappropriate and we need to break apart the system we have built. That is what I was saying.

And, the scariest thought

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Who is going to protect us from the cops after they’re defunded? If they’re the most violent criminals among us, they’ll still *be* there. Community policing isn’t going to protect us from the angry, feeling they should be more empowered than they are, wanting to crack some skulls ex-cops who will now also be homeless and hungry.

We need a massive organization to help bring them back to some kind of sanity.

..

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

So, thinking about it, I’m more afraid of the cops than of criminals. I really hope that overall pressure forces a reset of the criminal justice system. I think it’s far more likely that I will be killed by a police officer than a criminal, and far more likely I will be beaten by a police officer than a criminal. I also think the police should be ashamed of their repeated use of violence on peaceful protesters. It does fit my understanding of what they have become – a bunch of bullies who abuse their power at every opportunity and who have no respect for the constitution or the rule of law.

Hearing about the police placing protesters in the hospital in critical condition, I think we need to keep the pressure on until they are disbanded and replaced with a system that is likely to be less flawed. They are almost as big a bunch of murderous thugs as our military has become.

The problem is the politicians who would normally oversee that are also a bunch of criminals – some of the biggest thieves among us – and love that the police are murderous thugs because it is part of the base of their power. It’s hard not to feel like a revolution is the only option, except a revolution would just replace this flawed system with another equally flawed system. We need to design and testbed a good system of government *first*. Since the US is made up of 50 states it’s a ideal testbed environment if we are willing to do the smart thing. Of course, doing the smart thing is not what America is known for, we’re the “hold my beer” country where stupidity is king. But I can still hope.

One more COVID post, aimed particularly at MLM folks

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

MLM folks, *do not* have in person parties.

“But no one is sick!”

The problem is, COVID can

A: Be totally asymptomatic.. you feel just fine, but you are shedding – releasing hundreds of billions of copies of the virus

B: Be shedding before it’s symptomatic.

And

C: The test probably false-negatives fairly often, based on the number of people I know who got the test negative but are obviously sick with it. One thing I suspect also is that whether a person believes they have it or not may affect what answer they *hear* regardless of what the actual answer *is*. The human brain is a very tricky animal especialyl when death is involved.

“But I need to pay the rent”

Look, if the landlords evict us, we will *end* them. All we have to do is a special type of general strike where we give them all the money. Once all the tokens are in one group’s possession, they are totally worthless and then we will create a new type of money. Remember, we make the value, they don’t. Go back and read resource allocation as a group, especially the last part.